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FEC Allows Corporate-, Union-Funded Campaign Ads

The Federal Election Commission adopted a rule Tuesday that will allow political ads to be directly funded by corporations and unions.

The new rule was an amended version of a draft the commission was set to vote on Tuesday to bring its electioneering-communications policy in line with a June Supreme Court ruling.

Under the new rules, corporations and labor organizations can fund advertising on issues to air 30 days before a primary and 60 days before an election; and they can mention candidates by name provided that it is in the context of an issue and not campaigning for or against that candidate. Advertisers must disclose who is funding the ads.

But Paul Ryan, FEC program director and associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said much remains to be seen concerning how the FEC will treat ads. The FEC said it will make available on its Web site a list of examples of advertisements that are permissible and those that are not.

“I’m curious to see the extent to which the commission can reach consensus [on the ads that are listed],” Ryan said. “Those examples are going to tell us a lot.”

The rules will take effect 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register. There is no firm date for that yet.